A denture may be either a complete denture replacing all the natural teeth on either the top or bottom arch, or it may be a partial denture that replaces several missing teeth throughout the arch when fixed bridgework or implants cannot be used.
Removable partial dentures are attached to the teeth with metal clasps or by precision attachments which are part of a crown on a still viable tooth.
Another type of denture is an overlay denture. Traditionally, overlay dentures would be attached to two or more teeth that were root canal treated, and then covered with either a full or partial denture. These retained teeth might have a precision attachment which the denture would snap onto. With the advent of implants, it is more popular today to place implants, particularly on the lower which a denture then attaches to. Dentures also provide support for the cheeks and lips.
One of our objectives is that our patients never get to the point where they need a denture. However, multiple teeth can be lost in accidents, or through years of neglect. When that happens we try to retain as many teeth as possible, and use implants and precision attachments where appropriate to help make a denture that looks natural and attractive and that functions as close to real teeth as possible.
Dentures, wether full, partial, overlay or a combination need the same care as natural teeth. If there are some retained teeth, as in a partial or overlay, and/or implants, these still need to be cleaned once every 6 months at a minimum. Bone continues to shrink after teeth are removed and dentures can become unstable, which leads to more bone loss. However this is less common now that we have bone grafting materials that can be placed in the sockets at the time the teeth are removed, which helps reduce post extraction shrinkage. The use of implants will not only allow for retentive “snappers” to help hold the denture in place, particularly lower full dentures, but also prevent or greatly slow bone loss.
When having a denture made many patients will choose to have a duplicate “back-up” denture made also, in case something happens to the original. Dentures can break if they are dropped in a sink. It is a good idea to put a wash cloth in the sink when holding your denture while brushing it. Removable dentures should not be worn at night while sleeping. They should never be placed in boiling water, nor allowed to completely dry out.